I Chose Gratitude, And Watched My Entire Life Change Before My Eyes

gratitude

By Kate DesRosier

It’s true, spending time thinking about the things going right in your life does shift perspective and lead to better outcomes. It’s not always easy, but I highly recommend it. Sometimes things are overwhelmingly negative and challenging in our lives, and those are the moments this exercise can create critical change.

It’s not about putting a coat of sugar or gloss over bad situations, it’s a willingness to look beyond the immediate negatives in search of what is good. And it’s there, if you search for it, one small thing at a time.

Two years ago I was living in a city I hated, where every day was covered in a low-hanging blanket of grey clouds, affecting my mood and making me irritable. Every single thing felt like an inconvenience, including the basics, like grocery shopping (which I love) or checking the mail.

My attitude was bitterly bad, toxic and negative. I infected everything I touched with my ugly moods. Nothing was working, nothing was right. I lacked perspective in a big way and it was making my life an endless grind. I had to make a dramatic change, but how?

While planning a move to a sunny climate, which was going to take a significant amount of time to finance and organize, I worked on approaching life with a sense of gratitude. It began with recognizing the good in the here and now. If I had to search for parking and walk a few blocks in the rain to get groceries, well, wasn’t it great to have money to buy what I needed? And hey, I had a car to keep me out of the rain as I traveled from place to place.

I had a place of my own to store the groceries and cook my meals, and I wasn’t sleeping outside in the rain. Tuning into what I had that was working, that others might consider luxurious, began to shift my perspective. Gratitude began to pop in my mind like popcorn, so many little things becoming a large mass of good.

I’ve recently taken to noticing and appreciating every morning I wake up and I’m not in the hospital. Through my work I come into frequent contact with families who are dealing with seriously ill family members and it’s given me a wallop of perspective.

Prior to meeting folks who spend weeks and months in and out of medical treatment facilities, searching for answers, submitting to test after test, myriad drugs, needles, surgeries, and hardly living at home, I didn’t get it. I had no concept of the joy of waking up each morning, in my own home, not hooked to machines, eating food not from a cafeteria, no need for monitoring, poking or prodding. Seriously, it’s a marvelous, wonderful thing. Gratitude.

I got in a minor car accident a few months ago, my fault, lighting my $500 deductible on fire, and damaging a cherished, new-to-me car, purchased only weeks earlier. After the initial shaky, dazed feeling of the accident wore off, I understood how lucky I was to have walked away, and the person who hit me, too. Neither of us were hurt, our cars minorly damaged. The accident confronted me with an important truth: I’m a distracted, often reckless driver, and not just because of my phone. I realized I’d been given a warning to pay attention and make safer decisions in traffic. I got off easy, and I was grateful.

gratitude

I’ve never gone hungry or lacked access to clean, abundant water. I’ve never had to sleep outside or wear dirty clothes, or go unwashed. I live in an age of modern conveniences, in a country where I can publicly say terrible things about the government without fear of imprisonment.

I live in a time and place where women have options beyond running a household and raising children. I’ve never had to spend an entire day doing laundry by hand or move to a new state via covered wagon. I have a device in my hand at all times with which I can reach out to anyone when I’m lonely, or find information when I wonder, or get directions when I’m lost. I’ve never faced long-term unemployment or been entirely unable to pay my rent and bills.

I’ve never lived in a place lacking infrastructure, and have never had to think about extended power outages or unsafe roads, or whether my trash will be picked up. In fact, rarely thinking about a lot of this stuff, just taking it for granted, is a sign of privilege. I own it.

When I begin to feel angst, or dissatisfaction or longing over stuff like my job, or my sense of self, or my social life I remember something important. These are existential issues, problems relating to my perceived place in the world, not my immediate needs. Having the time and energy to grapple with existential issues is a luxury.

I cherish it, for it means my immediate needs are being met, leaving me with space to take on the struggles of self. What a marvelous gift, to lack for so few basic comforts and conveniences I can go internal and pick yourself and life apart until it looks terrible. But I’m not doing that anymore.

This morning when I woke up, I wasn’t in the hospital, and I was grateful. I can only hope tomorrow will find me in the same condition. Because when and if the day comes that I wake up hooked to machines in an unfamiliar room, I sure don’t want to think, man, I had it all and I didn’t even know. I choose gratitude and my life is better for it.

 

Kate-DesRosier

Kate DesRosier is a lone wolf extrovert who is passionate about people, relationships and opining on related subjects. The co-founder of candiduprising.com, she believes life works best when people are having honest conversations with themselves and others.

You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Gratitude Attitude Published on GirlTalkHQ | candid uprising

  2. Thank you, Kate. I needed that!

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